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Royal Shrovetide Football 2023

This wild 16-hour football match in Ashbourne is a grand event that has been taking place in the town since the 17th century

Royal Shrovetide Football
Royal Shrovetide Football
Royal Shrovetide Football

This exciting match doesn't look like traditional soccer. This is a medieval game that is traditionally played on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday on the streets of the town and in the river.

The game is played over two eight-hour periods, the goals are three miles apart and there are very few rules. The ball filled with Portuguese cork (so it won't sink in the river) is bigger than the traditional ball. It isn't kicked by one's feet, it is rather thrown by hands.

This game is somewhat similar to rugby, the Ba' Game in Scotland and Lelo Burti in Georgia. It begins at 2 pm each day and the match continues until 10 pm. The game takes place on the streets and there is no certain number of players. Anyone who can compete for the ball can be a player.

The game is played between two sections of an English town—the Up’ards and Down’ards; the teams depend on which side of the Henmore brook the player is born on. All are pushing and throwing the ball in different directions. Therefore, during the game shops are closed in the town, and cars are parked away to avoid accidents.

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin